Prêt À Porter

Be careless in your dress if you must, but keep a tidy soul.

- Mark Twain

Tried out my first pair of "big girl shoes" the other night.

Didn't work out too well.

I had a few parties to go to, and I had dispatched a friend to find me the perfect ensembles (one of three straight males who shops for me on a regular basis, because their judgment and good taste VASTLY exceeds mine, which admittedly isn't saying much).

Fortunately, he was going to an estate sale up north. Not just any estate sale. But the estate sale "executive secretary" who worked in a shoe factory and doubled as a model.

After reviewing most of her wardrobe (including some seriously steep lingerie from the 40s and 50s), my friend and I created an entire double life for her-most of which involved scenarios where she was chased around the desk by the president of the company. (She was known to go on "business trips" as his "executive assistant." Mmmm-hmmm.)

All I'm saying is: the soles of these shoes had CLEARLY never touched a floor anytime before last week.

And now I know why.

I put them on (along with one of her smart little vintage Tippi Hedrin-in-The Birds outfits), and I admit, I felt delightfully saucy, till I stood up.

Now, even in well-worn Timberlands, I possess, on my best days, all the grace of a lumberjack or a longshoreman. Put me in high heels, and you've got more of a hippo-on-ice skates thing going.

And the pain??? My eyes started watering. My neck began to hurt. Then my hair. And my fingernails. They say these things were designed by men to subjugate women? Please.

Hell, the party had barely started and I was minutes away from taking hostages, and heading for the nearest rooftop with an AK-47.

And frankly, I didn't even enjoy the added height. I do not possess one trace of model-envy.

First, I would never voluntarily make myself throw up (and I think that's required).

And second, I like BIG men-on average, those at least a foot taller than me. I like the kinda guy who can put me in his pocket at a party and carry me around. Not that I'd want him to, I just want to know he could. Being of freakish model-height, or wearing stilettos, would just narrow my options.

Hop Sing lavishly complimented me on the shoes, saying they looked like just the sort of thing I would use to step on my date's chest and grind his heart out.

I was thinking more of taking one off and jamming the heel into some stalker's eye. (I always liked that SWF scene with the Gucci, though I think cinema verité dictates that Jennifer Jason Leigh should've wielded a Manolo Blahnik instead).

I would never say (out loud) that clothes make the woman-because that would be shallow-but I have seen them un-make a few.

(C'mon, as I tell the wingmen, If a gal looks like trash, acts like trash, dresses like trashmaybe she is trash. We expect low standards from 30-something-boys, but the 40-something MEN could exercise better judgment. Mainly because we womenfolk don't like spending our languid backporch summer suppers asphyxiating in a cloud of cheap hairspray, cheaper bleach, and rays of leftover tanning bed radiation. Hey! Some of this crew has CHILDREN. We don't want to see their little chromosomes mutated just because some middle-aged-crazy who's thinkin' with an organ somewhere south of his brain insists on bringing along the detritus of his downward mental spiral. You know it's bad when even other MEN describe one of their own as a walkin' cliché. When even the guys point out, "hey buddy, at least buy a sports car...something everybody can enjoy..." Though in fairness, I think that last comment could and has been said of these trailer twinkies, who are, indeed, the good time that was had by all. We've tried everything short of Deep Woods Off to get rid of 'em, but God help us, one of 'em finally bagged her M.R.S. degree, by means that should probably remain discreet... let's just say a shotgun and paterfamilias was involved. I won't be the one to throw the baby shower for the big-haired mallrat suburbanite sweetie, but I do plan to babysit the expected baby girl as often as possible, so I can teach her all about Stuart Weitzman and Kenneth Cole, books that Oprah's never heard of, liberal arts ...along with the evils of Aqua Net, frosted lipstick, perms, tan-in-a-can, roots, and mall-wear.)

My mom always said you CAN judge a book by its cover. And she dressed me accordingly. Consequently, I still have a lot of black-watch-plaid Catholic school skirts...And some guys are really INTO that (though I'm sure that's not the result she intended).

My sartorial objective as old age advances is to not look unduly offensive, and to try not to embarrass anybody. My role models, needless to say, are Jackie O. and Holly Go...Not J. Lo. Hell, I'd settle for Jackie Susann. (I was carrying a vintage bag that conveniently folds out to a small bar, and pharmacy.)

High fashion is not for me. Twenty minutes after the weekend's first party, I was back in my flip-flops and a sundress.

Half hour later, I was gathered on my front porch with a few close, heavily-armed male friends, discussing how we might best drop the block out of a Chevy later that weekend.

When they left, I was back in my overalls, with a spade in one hand, a level, some string, and a few 2 x 4s, beginning the arduous process of designing and laying out a slate walk with a brick border, using the security lighting that's de rigueur for any insomniac.

Later though, I did consider sleeping in the stilettos. I just didn't think my pink cotton jammies would do them justice.